Christmas Around the World: Southern California

There’s a lot of pressure commerically and socially to keep up appearances when it comes to Christmas. But here’s the thing. There are no rules. In this special interview series I ask some favourite Instagrammers around the world how they celebrate the holiday.

Tamera Beardsley, fashion accessory designer, is determined to squeeze every last possible drop of joy from the Festive Season. Come with me to Southern California where Tamera reveals her infectious passion for all things Christmassy.

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Christmas gift guide 2021

You would think that finding wonderful gifts for family and friends would be an easy ask in the virtual ‘shopping mall’ online. The Christmas marketing season is upon us but with so much choice it can actually make choosing the right present more challenging, with hours spent peering at your mobile screen trying to find the best deals.

I’ve gone back over the past year to find the best books I’ve read, foods I couldn’t get enough of and delicious wines you might not have heard of. Here’s the Hashtagtravelling.uk guide to thoughtful and sustainable Christmas gifts in Santa’s virtual grotto.

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Christmas Around the World: Tokyo

“Are you all set for Christmas?” It’s a common refrain from now until 24th December. Christmas-related anxiety has become the accepted ‘norm’. And if the only date in your calendar for December is the holiday bin collection service, it can feel as though everyone else in the world is out partying every night, except you.

Welcome to the third feature in a new festive series where I invite favourite Instagrammers from around the world to share their stories on how they spend the Holiday Season. This week I interview award-winning travel writer, Rob Goss, about a typical Christmas in Tokyo.

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Christmas Around The World: NSW, Australia

Welcome to the second in a new festive feature series where I invite Instagram pals from around the world to share their festive stories.

Now in the second week of November and the advertising campaigns on social media, TV, glossy magazines etc are in full swing. With over-spending developed to an unrealistic level of ‘normal’, it can be hard to resist feeling like the ‘odd-one-out’ if you’re not working up to a frenzy of shopping anxiety and party planning by mid-December.

But here’s the thing, Christmas is what you choose to make it. Push the boat out or spend the day in bed, your choice. There are no rules.

On with the storytelling. This week I ask Nina Tobin, who lives in New South Wales and likes to hang out with ‘Ma Nature’… How do you spend Christmas?

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Christmas Around the World: the South of France

‘Twas the week before Christmas when I moved into a new house a few years back. For a number of reasons I found myself home alone on the Big Day unpacking boxes (with a glass of champagne to hand, naturally). It was a lot of fun but many (including the removal man) were appalled that I chose to spend the day on my own.

Advertising around Christmas-related products and services begins in early autumn in the UK. Planning (travel, food, gifts and sparkly clothes) and the related over-spending has been developed to an unrealistic level of ‘normal’. Now, a little sparkle goes along way in the dark winter months, but by mid December it can be hard not to feel like the ‘odd-one-out’ if you’re not seen to be tearing your hair out in a frenzy of anxiety over Secret Santa at the office, gift-buying for the family, and stuffing the turkey. And, as the marketing campaigns indicate, your calender must surely be choc-full with a host of fabulous parties to attend.

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Paul Joyce exhibition

Review. Paul Joyce: A Life Behind The Lens

What did Paul Joyce, filmmaker, writer, photographer and painter, make of Jane Fonda? Why did Joyce and David Hockney fall out? And which of his photographs did Sophia Loren choose as a personal gift?

Paul Joyce (credits include director and producer of four series of Dr Who, 1981) spent his childhood in Winchester so it seems entirely fitting that a city gallery is hosting an exhibition celebrating his life and work, now in his 80th year. Paul Joyce: A Life Behind the Lens features a selection of well-known faces, as well as photographic landscape works and paintings from the past five decades. Many images are accompanied by some blunt commentary from Joyce.

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Review. Frans Hals: The Male Portrait at the Wallace Museum

A stunning new display of over 12 works by Frans Hals, one of the greatest masters of the Dutch Golden Age, offers a unique perspective on 17th century masculinity and sense of style. In a breakaway from the male gaze upon the female form, Hals fixes his painterly eye upon his male contemporaries. The portraits are displayed against a dark background, with subtle gallery lighting except for spotlights on each painting. It is a sexy, elegant and theatrical setting, and I fell in love with every single one.

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Review: Cooking With Heroes

The Royal British Legion is marking 100 years (1921-2021) with a new cookbook featuring recipes by personnel with contributions from, celebrity cooks and chefs.

The first thing to say about Cooking With Heroes is that it’s a very ambitious book at 470 pages. A tome both in terms of content and weight, it requires both hands to hold it up to read. The recipes appear by regions from Armagh to Zimbabwe, Essex to The Gambia, and Hampshire to New Zealand. There are favourites (Hello, Welsh rarebit!) and posh fish ‘n’ chips and other recipes, for instance, potato and apple bread, contributed by Chief Petty Officer John Potts, Royal Navy (Retired). Add to the mix personal stories, snippets of history and stunning photography and the wide appeal of this book will solve many Christmas gift shopping dilemmas. Or add it to your own Letter to Santa.

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This week… bread and circus

Another odd week in an age of odd times. In addition to the gods’ conspiracy to thwart travel writers with lockdowns, complicated travel guidelines and such-like, now there’s the fuel delivery shortage. After trying around eight stations (I lost count, and almost the will to live, after four) I queued for an hour to fill up. Having expected a wait of a couple of hours I thought that was reasonable (how mad can things get?).

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This week… tigers, skulls and a Del Boy moment

Temperatures have dropped in the UK this week and after what seemed like endless days of autumn sunshine we now have heavy rain. From now until around March bracing country walks, warming hot soups and evenings on the sofa watching great classic films are the general rule, including an annual rerun of Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC, 1979) with the much-missed Alec Guinness.

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